SLAs. SLOs. TTR. ASA. Uptime. Downtime. The list of IT metrics is long and heavy with meaning. IT managers meet for lunch and ask each other “How’s your abandon rate?” IT directors meet with VPs to discuss the most recent CSAT scores and where they are with the ROI for the recent implementation of a chatbot.
Does this sound like your organization? Or is it more familiar to hear others talk about their metrics, while you listen, convinced you’re the only IT team on earth who isn’t measuring these things?
As an industry, we are metric-rich. We are absolutely drowning in potential measurements, and we do love talking about them. In fact, I was recently talking about them with a colleague who asked, “How are some teams still managed without metrics?” I maintained that while there is no arguing that metrics help us understand our performance and ultimately drive our improvements and service levels, there is also no arguing that metrics for the sake of metrics are useless.
Metrics for the sake of metrics are useless.
We found ourselves debating which must be first…chicken or egg? Metrics or process? I’ll tell you now that I argued for process. I assume, if you’re still reading this, you don’t really use metrics, but you know you need to if you’re going to elevate your (or your team’s, or your company’s) results. And if that’s the case, then you’re just like I was, not so long ago.
First, stop beating yourself up for not having metrics yet. You have made it this far, presumably by being good at what you’re doing, and that is going to continue to help you. Once I accepted that my skills, even if still a little raw, were enough to get started, I was a lot more confident in preparing to choose a direction. So, if you don’t have metrics yet, no problem. You can start now!
Identify what is driving you to consider using metrics. When I first started working in a service desk environment, we didn’t have any real SLAs. We were in essence “best effort,” but we knew our business and had a good sense of what was important, what needed to be done first, and how long was “too long.”. Naturally, it was inevitable that our customers would sometimes disagree with our interpretation of “reasonable timeframe,” or my manager would ask “how busy are we?” So, I started thinking about how I could give better answers in those situations and the “why” behind my admittedly vague thinking about metrics.
Once you identify some drivers (your “whys”), you need to translate them into desired results. My initial list looked something like this:
|Why Do I Want to Use Metrics?||Desired Result|
|Sometimes I get complaints that tickets are taking too long. What is “too long?”
||Consistently, predictably fulfill requests or repair an item in a declared timeframe|
|I want to know how much work we have.
||Be able to see and trend the amount of tickets assigned to my team (new, in progress, closed)|
|I want to know what my team is really doing.
||Be able to see team member’s individual ticket load and types of tickets|
|Do I have the right number of staff?
||Be able to see how long tickets are taking to complete|
|My manager wants a way to show our performance, and not only do I want to look good, I want to make my manager look good.
||Be able to create a report or dashboard that tells the story of the team’s performance|
Now that you know what you want, it’s time for the big question…HOW do you get them? This answer is going to depend on several things. But the key item is likely your ticketing tool and working with your vendor to understand what you can do with it. And if you’re a small team and you don’t have a formal ticketing tool, then you’ll need to get creative with your spreadsheets! The point is that getting a taste for what you can learn (and improve) from gathering metrics will put you on the path to a more mature strategy and framework for ITSM in general.
No matter what, get out there and talk to others. I joined HDI years ago, which exposed me to organizations at all levels of metric maturity, including ones who were just starting like I was. My experience there led me to attend a local user group for my ITSM tool, which strengthened my exposure to the different processes that were possible. I can always depend on the HDIConnect community to enlighten me with new ideas, and a few minutes searching the threads will show you that you’re not alone in your challenges. The rewarding conversations you have with your peers are sure to set you off on the right foot, and you’ll be on your way to identifying and utilizing your first meaningful metric. See? No metrics, no problem!
Kristin Jones is a passionate customer support advocate with a focus on people and process, and has been leading IT teams with delight for over a decade. A lifelong learner who seeks to inspire others with fresh ideas, she is an active member of the HDI community and holds certifications in ITIL v3., HDI Support Center Manager and KCS Foundations. She strives to end each day having smiled more than frowned and having helped someone (or something!) work better. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kitonjones.